President Donald Trump arrived in Switzerland today ahead of his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday — but a number of attendees are planning to stage a walkout in protest.
A report from Quartz indicated that “a growing number” of political and business leaders from around the world are planning to walk out of Trump’s speech pushing his “America First” doctrine in protest of his racist remarks about African countries during an immigration meeting earlier this month.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 25, 2018
Trump reportedly referred to Haiti and several African nations as “shithole countries” during the private White House meeting. The remarks were confirmed by several attendees, including Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.
The decision to boycott Trump’s speech appears to have started with Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale, who penned an open letter condemning the “overt racism” of Trump’s comments. He acknowledged many of Africa’s problems, but said that “Africa is so much more than the sum of its shortcomings.”
He also questioned what Trump means by “America First.”
“Rather than the laudable ethos upon which modern America is built, namely a nation of immigrants free to strive for excellence and success, regardless of their provenance, it appears you want to pull up the drawbridge for people who are not white, and engineer an exclusive, less diverse America,” Mohale continued.
— Bonang Mohale (@bonang_mohale) January 19, 2018
Invoking the international solidarity against Apartheid in South Africa, Mohale said, “Many of us will be boycotting your address to delegates at Davos in protest against your divisive comments and continued failure to unequivocally apologize.”
Still, Many African CEOs said they simply wanted an apology from Trump, for him to acknowledge the comment was inappropriate.
“We’re only looking for that, just to apologize,” said Luvuyo Rani, the CEO of a South African internet company, to Quartz.
Trump’s visit to the Davos forum is the first by a sitting U.S. President since Bill Clinton attended in 2000.